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posted: 8/2/2012 1:02 PM

Talk with the Editor: Restraint, commenting, Olympics and Chick-fil-A

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An odds and ends kind of column today:

Robert Feder, media columnist for Time Out Chicago, posted a piece earlier this week about our efforts to bring restraint to our coverage of the accused assailant in the Colorado theater rampage. I'm happy to see him spreading the word to colleagues in the industry.

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I must say, the response to my column and print letter last week has been almost overwhelming. We received more than 100 emails, as well as a handful of phone calls and last week's column comment. With only a few exceptions, all of them not only have been positive. And many, many have been effusive and highly flattering in their support.

Among other things, it increases my feelings of connection with our audience and inspires our efforts to do "the right thing" with our coverage.

I heard that at least one wag with a local competitor questioned whether we're consistent in how we cover sensational crimes. Nobody's perfect, but I think for the most part we're true to our approach. But whatever the case, rather than worrying about us, I wish other news media outlets would use that energy in a healthy way to examine the wisdom of their own approaches.

We've had a lot of discussion in this space over the months about online commenting.

Let me be up front with you: We're examining whether to go through Facebook for our commenting. Many other news sites use it and it definitely improves accountability and the tone of the discussions.

In many respects, it also helps expand the audience and improves interactivity. But most sites that have turned to it have found at least an initial drop in comment volume.

So I'm more than a bit torn. As always, I'm interested in your thoughts.

We're trying to focus each day -- probably with better success in print than online -- on letting you know how local athletes are doing in the Summer Olympics and who's on tap to compete today. I credit Renee Trappe, our Assistant Managing Editor for Local News, among others, for our success in that regard.

Anyway, I think we're doing pretty well with that. But my perspective on it is not nearly as important as yours. How do you think we're doing?

I hope you've also noticed the expanded Olympics section we've created online. If not, please check it out.

The Chick-fil-A story just seems to be growing, not lessening -- and Wednesday's "appreciation day" turnout just added to the phenomenon.

I've seen businesses come under fire for things in the past. But gosh, I'm not sure whether I've ever seen a business become such an overnight lightning rod for both criticism and support.

We're trying to cover it from all angles and trying to do so with balance and fairness.

How do you think we're doing with that? What's the story we haven't done on that issue that we should be doing?

(We encourage you to talk with the editor by clicking on the Comments widget and providing your response to today's column. We want a provocative discussion but one that also abides by general rules of civility ... Please also consider friending John on Facebook by searching John Lampinen Daily Herald and following him on Twitter @DHJohnLampinen.)

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